Mercedes-Benz USA is recalling 2014 and 2015 models of the Smart fortwo microcar. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, those vehicles might've been built with poorly made bolts, which could cause serious problems for owners.
The bolts were made by Fontana Luigi S.p.A in Italy and were used to attach the fortwo's steering gear. NHTSA says that the bolts don't meet "endurance requirements", leaving them open to fractures and worse:
"Should a vehicle have been manufactured containing the affected bolts, these bolts might break during the lifetime of the vehicle if exposed to high loads in combination with vibrations. Should one of the two bolts on the cross member break, vehicle handling would be impacted, increasing the risk of an accident."
Which is probably putting it mildly.
NHTSA says that drivers of cars with this problem may hear unusual noises while the vehicle is in motion. They may also notice that the steering wheel sits at a tilted position, and the ESP warning light may come on.
The recall affects the following models:
- 2014-2015 Smart fortwo coupe
- 2014-2015 Smart fortwo convertible
- 2014 Smart fortwo coupe electric
- 2014 Smart fortwo convertible electric
Compared to many recalls that we see, this one affects a fairly small number of vehicles -- just 5,058 cars registered in the U.S. Whether that's because of limited production dates or Smart's notoriously low American sales stats is unknown. (Remember when Oprah tried to give away the fortwo? That was fun.)
Mercedes-Benz USA hasn't yet told NHTSA when it plans to mail recall notices to consumers. When it does, however, owners will be able to take their vehicles to a dealership, where the steering gear mounting bolts will be replaced.
If you own one of the affected vehicles and have questions, you're encouraged to contact Smart customer service at 800-762-7887, or call NHTSA at 888-327-4236 and ask about safety campaign #15V192000.